Sinful Desperation

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Sinful Desperation

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood-

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

He stared at the ceiling as he reclined on the big bed, his naked body stretched straight, seeking relief from his back pain.

“It’s been years, my son, since your last confession. I hear desperation in your voice. Is the Church your last bastion of hope?”

A mournful smile of contrition and watery eyes looked upward to the ceiling. He would play both parts of this little satire from his soul, not mocking the billions of people who habitually practiced their faith in a Deity, rather, an awkward attempt at an anodyne for his pain.

“Yes, Father, on all accounts…” a back spasm interrupted his soliloquy and he sought another position on the bed. He was too tightly wound and needed to move his limbs in some exercises the cute young lady in physical therapy had insisted he practice each day.

Finally, he found some relief and continued with his conversation with the ‘Holy Father’ there in the center of his ceiling. “Yes, Father, many years, and, in conflicting ways, a lifetime ago, yet, now, here, as the filmstrip of my earthly adventure unveils itself to me, my weekly spiritual visits to your Church seems not so far away.”

The man was almost ready to hear a reply. Not to be, he continued.

“So, on to my confession, Father, one, I fear will take more than a few ‘Hail Marys’ and a heavy penitence to absolve.” The man closed his eyes and his face took on a grimace.

“I confess to one of Man’s oldest of the seven sins, Pride. All my life I’ve taken umbrage with people who sully me, sometimes, in simple remarks that attempt to jest and tease. Perhaps that sin comes from a youthful disconnect with family and a poor quality of life. This sin has cost me friends and love connections. It is also truth to say it is the least of my sins.

“I confess to an earlier life rife with excessive sensual pleasures, Lust/Debauchery of the wicked and most wild, orgy-filled, salacious kind. I sought out and experimented with life’s underworld of Bacchus-plus drug madness. There were moments of intense euphoria, gratification, and immoral depravity.

“And, when the days and nights of playing Nero’s mad fiddle ended, there were tears, self-recrimination, times for soul-wrenching and no resolutions: preparation-time, it could be said, for the next ‘big toot’.

“I confess, Father, to periods of Envy, of Sloth, of Gluttony, and of Greed.

“There remains one more sin, Father, that of Wrath. I have saved it for the final portion of my confession because there was a prelude of most, if not all, the seven virtues before its denouement… a period in my life of happiness so fulfilling, so real, that it seemed my life had found its right and true moral compass.

“Having run the gamut of my ‘fiddling’ days, I sought to find a more righteous purpose in my life. A friend of mine who had been lost in the same forest of shame as I invited me to go to church with him on a beautiful Sunday morning in June. After smiling stupidly at the idea, I decided to go…to see how the ‘moral half’ lived.

“Are you still with me, Father? Have I lost you in my recount of decadence?”

The man could almost see the Father’s smile. “How could I not? What with such an interesting life you present to me?”

“You, Father, speak with a forked tongue. You must know it’s the fires of hell I’m destined for!

“Whatever, at the beautiful church with my friend, I met Maureen, a woman of remarkable beauty I felt destiny had placed in my path. We both felt a Karmic bonding and began a long relationship which ended in marriage.

“Our love was pure and, by any standard, storybook. We danced in the moonlight and worked every day at our jobs, saved our money and became wealthy, mostly by her artistic talent and her huge following. We were together all the moments we were not working or at a painting exhibition.

“We had a baby boy who died in his sixth month of an undiagnosed tumor.

“Maureen and I were devastated by Brian’s death, but, for her, there was an emptiness she could not fill. She began drinking. She stopped painting, and fate pulled her from me into the arms of another man. She was still trying to fill the void left by Brian.

“We began to argue, our spats becoming an ugly, yet another obtrusion to our love.

“Last night, Maureen arrived home after midnight, clearly in the mood for another spat. I pleaded with her to go to bed. She became infuriated with me and began slapping me. The slaps made me angry, and I tried to wrap my arms around her to carry her off to bed. She stomped my foot with the heel of her shoe and pushed me backward. I began to fall and grabbed her wrist instinctively to secure my footing. Then, she, too, began to fall, and I let go so she could get her footing. Her head banged loudly into the granite counter in our bar area and she went down onto the carpet, blood spreading out in a profuse flow from the gash. Maureen died last night, Father.”

The man could almost hear the sorrow in the Father’s voice, see the pain on his face through a small imagined window in a small imagined confessional.

On the bed, as tears flowed from the man’s eyes, he saw a pale shadowy figure, an apparition, Maureen, her arms extended toward him, her sad tearful eyes and still beautiful face beckoning to him.

The man’s face was covered in tears, his voice gagging and pitiful gasps, as he thrust the butcher knife upward into his heart.

The bedroom was silent in its darkness as the two wraiths walked across the room to eternity.

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – May 25, 2017

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Soul’s Odyssey

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Soul’s Odyssey

Why is it so? This mystical longing, this wanderlust, this soul odyssey?

There are so many parts that make up this mortal body: the part that takes me to moments of happiness and joy, like love’s ecstatic swoons; the part that cries in the sadness of a child’s suffering, the madness of evil-doers, the movies that convey tragedies of loss; the part that yearns for new surroundings – desert, mountain, seaside territories – while knowing the respite and serenity will be but temporary.

But, then, the question is begged. I know full-well the answer. Along with the baffling DNA, the early mobility of childhood, a displaced family, and some steady diet of emotional soup, I am what I am. The good fortune for me: I did not go too far toward the ‘dark side’…that is, crime was never an option. Something innate, a good mother’s nurturing, kept me somewhat wholesome. Well, there was some naughtiness along the way, says he, tongue in cheek.

Crime and evil do fascinate me – the serial killers, mothers who torture and/or kill their children, psychopaths, sociopaths, all those who blame everyone around them for their degenerate natures.

So, I take my unsophisticated microscope to the bizarre news accounts of the day and write fictional accounts of the abductions, homicides, and felonious natures of the willful pursuits.

The funny thing, in those lines and between those lines that I write, there is self-discovery. I see pieces of me, bits of anger, anxiety, frustration, and even my ruling romanticism. The anger and frustration is of course directed toward the evil I’m fictionally chronicling. The anxiety, plus occasional tears, come with the depiction of those unsuspecting characters who have been killed, maimed, and emotionally disabled.

Writing is my therapy, my ‘sofa time’ on the psychiatrist’s sofa. After a considered good session on the laptop, my elation shows its self. There is a sweet sense of accomplishment. In re-reading the sections I’ve written, I am often elated and sometimes mumble to myself: ‘Did I write that’? There’s a feeling that an invisible hand has taken over the keyboard…a euphoria, if you will, that a particular chapter, paragraph, phrase, can stimulate me so much.

SOUL ODYSSEY came to me as the title for this blog post, and I wanted to share it with my fellow authors. For me, I think the title fits. Perhaps it does for you as well. My best wishes to all who peck the keys and create…     

Billy Ray Chitwood – April 25, 2017

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Here are three of my fourteen books…hope you can stop by my Website and preview these and books of different genres, see some books reviews, some author comments, and read some blog posts: https://billyraychitwood.com

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Acceptance

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Acceptance

I was taken from disturbed darkness

 Out into the frantic light of life,

Taken from the safety of the womb

 And an often dark and jarring strife.

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The humble journey I began came

with incipient turmoil and doubt,   

subtle remorse and terrible guilt

That, with me, I carried about.

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With youth behind I wore my badges

Of courage, deceit, and self-doubt.

Tasting the beguiling fruits of Eden

And sipping from the Bacchus spout.

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My Odyssey was not without the

Pain of guilt and sincere remorse.

Oh, no! My mind’s black closet

Choked and stifled me in due course.

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Then came a forgotten Deity Who

Brought me to my misguided sense,

Gave me another chance at Faith,

And bade new Love to commence.

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So, here, in the quietness of this

Meadow green, I vow to schemes

Of Worship those worthy paeans

Of Soul on these acres of dreams.

 

©Billy Ray Chitwood – April 18, 2017

 

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The Sea and Me

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The Sea and Me

Some people are born to fret and worry… Yes, even here in this magnificent resort on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

So, what’s the rub?

The scene above was there each morning when I awakened – the cobalt waters, the pale blue skies, the palm trees, the villas below our penthouse, the cobblestone roads that ran through the property, and the nostalgic aromas of old Mexico. Julie Anne and I walked many days on the concha-laden sandy beach and gathered seashells. We watched the young lovers in languid repose on the beach and by the pools. We watched the multi-colored sailboats on the sea and the larger yachts farther out toward the horizon. We watched the banana boats take the squealing tourists on a bouncy ride through the waves, some falling off and gathered back by the gleeful BB operator. Single-engine hang-gliders went aloft with one or two people, dipping low, soaring up again, near the beach and the resort. Most of these happy scenes played out with the background sounds of mariachi music playing on someone’s sound equipment…

Okay, Okay! I got lost in the moments of memory.

The rub?

It came time for an HOA election of board members. Julie Anne, a few Mexican staff members, and some of our American friends/Condo neighbors at the resort thought I should run and lend some support to solving the pesky problems facing the resort…and, NO, I won’t be elaborating on those pesky problems. The truth is, all I wanted to do was write my blogs and books in this most tantalizing environment. However, the prodding of wife and friends PLUS my own stupid ego finally won out, and I put my name in the proverbial hat.

I was elected to the board and subsequently appointed President of the HOA Board. Having never been on any kind of board in my life I tried to keep my enthusiasm and pride in check.

Now, back to that beautiful scene of our resort above – and the fact that some people were born to ‘fret and worry’. The F&W part was all mine, and that beautiful resort environment changed to problem solving – or, attempts at problem solving. AND, my writing went further south toward Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, without me enjoying the journey…you all know that trying to please hundreds of people in one neat bundle is impossible.

Well, my board did solve problems, from an economic standpoint, and took care of many other issues, The credit goes to my great Secretary (who would ultimately become President), my good Treasurer, the resort staff, and the other fully engaged and supportive members of the board. I can say with honesty and honor that there were moments of warm camaraderie, frustration, and consistent efforts to solve those ‘pesky problems’.  

Eventually, I got back to ‘sea shells at the seashore’ and my writing…

Speaking of my writing (and you knew I would be bringing my writing into this post!) the final book 6 in my ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series, books 1-6’, A COMMON EVIL, was loosely inspired by my sojourn at that beautiful Mexican resort… It is a thriller and there are truths therein – regarding the cartel business and some of the resort’s problems. There is murder! Suspense! It’s a Thriller! (Oops! I said that!)

You should read it and leave an Amazon review…the book has several 5-Star reviews, and, of course, I would be happy to see more (honest reviews, of course!). You can preview the other 5 books in my BC series at the Website (address below) and eight other titles that bear my name.

Please contact me if you wish to know more about the resort…it’s in the state of Sonora in Mexico, an easy drive from Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

 Billy Ray Chitwood – April 14, 2017

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Sunrise Sonata

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Sunrise Sonata

The man’s countenance projected a sorrowful and faraway expression as his body found some measure of comfort against the boulder just below the rise of the hill. The spot was his place of meditation.

 

He came during darkness after the awful TV news of a mob’s protest turned violent killing innocents and destroying property over several city blocks.

 

In the dark quietness he lifted his tenor saxophone toward the starlit sky and filled the cool air with soft mellifluous notes, springing from a well of remembered love songs. The soft notes floated upward toward a Deity the man could never forsake, to the Omniscient and Omnipotent King of Kings, the golden instrument praying in its way for the miracle of Love and Peace.

 

Tears came to dry upon his face time and again as the agony of soul sought release. The anger and hate of hooded protesters could not stop the madness that plagued the Earth. Only the merger of kindred minds could bring the world together.

 

The man watched the sunrise from his spot of somber solitude, and a spiritual stirring came to his body, a feeling of some respite, a sense of Designed Expectation.

 

He rose, placed his saxophone in its case and walked from the hill. He was sure he could hear the rapturous sounds of his saxophone in the air behind him.

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – February 11, 2017

 

Please visit my website, preview my 14 books, read some book reviews, blogs,  and some comments by the author.

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Winter Musings

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Winter Musing

The trees are bare and ungiving

Like the souls of sick minds,

Their dead leaves floating in the

Wind to a winter of indifference.

 

Among the chaos of winter urges

Comes the hope of a white dove,

Spreading its inviting wings of

Devotion to an ancient Deity.

 

Soon the loveliness of Spring and

Fertile minds will convene again

To delve into the mysteries of life,

The primeval phenomenon of Faith.

Billy Ray Chitwood – Christmas day – 2016

 

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The Soul of a Dreamer

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The Soul of a Dreamer

or

Play Me a Tune, Piano Man

With this post I get to show not only some of my ‘warts of longing and wanderlust’ but an abiding romanticism that has tagged along with me through my life. The Piano Bar Is symbolic of some younger years when I was going to live forever, a time when I could play out fantasies and dramatic ‘movie scenes’ of a lonely and desperate man, a time when the amber juices made me not so lonely and desperate…when a young lady fell prey to my somber moans of despair, often leading from The Piano Bar to my hotel or motel room. My symbolism here likely matches well with many a fellow comrade seeking nebulous new beginnings. Those who might ‘wonder’ about a moral character issue, the ‘Romantic’ can quickly dispel the issue – given the time!

I’m not going to write in much detail about those nomadic days, my longings, my searching, my quaint poetry (also known as my etchings). Instead, I give you a song, a composition in my head and heart from some contemplative and mystic area of being I shall never fully comprehend. In some ways the song might remind many of Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ song… That was never my intent to intrude on Billy’s very special material. In fact, Billy Joel’s song never entered my mind until later…besides, Billy Joel is a professional at what he does…and it’s likely okay with him if a guy wants to make a fool of himself.

The reason for my amateurish ballad piece is this: we have a beautiful house which we (my wife and I) have decorated. In our den over the fireplace mantel there is a colorful painting of a piano. As I type away on my laptop the blogs and the current book on which I’m working I constantly pause and look at that painting. At the end of the day I occasionally have one highball (usually a rum concoction of one sort or another), and, with each sip and loss of one or more brain cells, Bacchus stimulates me to sing aloud the words as I gaze at my piano painting…several times, until I feel I’ve captured the soul prompt. Here are those words

Play Me a Tune, Piano Man

Play me a tune, piano man…

Sing me a song from the years.

Play me a tune, piano man…

Bring back the joy and the tears.

Make all the words sad and lonely…

Sung whiskey tenor with heart.

Sing them all warm and embracing.

Keep the crowd rapt from the start.

Now give the keys some gaiety…

Give the crowd reason to smile.

Play ‘til the bar room is closing,

‘Last Call’, folks, for a while.

Play me a tune, piano man…

Sing me a song from the years.

Play me a tune, piano man…

Bring back the joy and the tears.

Song written and sung by: Billy Ray Chitwood – October 23, 2014

Now, if you wish to actually hear me sing the song A Capella, move the mouse on over to: https://goo.gl/FPGYH6. (You Tube)- booing and laughing are permitted since I cannot hear you hurting my tender feelings…my wife left the den when she heard the song – she never told me later that she had a need to retch… 

That’s it, music lovers! Please return to your favorite pastime! (Think I’ll write another song…)

Hope you will visit my Website: 

http://brchitwood.weebly.com 

Preview my 14 books, a few book reviews, and some comments by the author.

Please follow me on http://twitter.com/brchitwood (@brchitwood)

Flowers and Fate

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Flowers and Fate

“Red or yellow roses, Sir?” the older lady in the flower shop asked.

The young man in his early thirties smiled and raised his brow. “Now, how did you know it was to be roses, Millie?” He knew her from a name tag.

“It’s the body language, young man. Your step, your face, the happy gleam in your eyes.”

“Really! I’m that obvious?”

“You’re that obvious,” she teasingly grinned, “plus I’ve had this shop too many years not to know when love walks through the door.”

He put his hands on the counter and gently asked, “And, do you know how many roses I’ll be sending FTD today?”

“You’re a two-dozen fellow, I’m betting.” She pursed her lips.

“And, does my step, my face, and the happy gleam in my eyes tell you which color I’ll pick?”

“Red, of course! You’re obviously in love and you want the red roses to convey your love for the young lady.” She tilted her head slightly in a positive gesture.

“Why would I not choose yellow roses?” the man asked, amused by the conversation.

“Yellow roses would be fine, but you wish to make a deeper statement. Red gets the point of love across rather profoundly. They say, ‘I love you’. Yellow roses convey happiness and joy in more of a friendship fashion… My goodness, listen to me, giving you information you likely already know.”

“No, you’ve actually tagged me perfectly, and I thank you. It will be two dozen red roses, and I trust you will pick out twenty-four of your very best.”

“It will be my pleasure, plus an extra red rose to accentuate the strong statement. I shall make it a very special arrangement for you. You will wish a card sent with the roses…”

His name was Farris Stanley Ballanger. The flowers were going to Johnnie Ballanger, his wife. On a short business trip to help out one of his service station managers, he would be home tomorrow and wanted Johnnie to receive the flowers before his arrival.

Stan spent some time in thought at the counter as to the words he would put on the card. Smiling, finally satisfied with his choice of words, he placed the card in the accompanying envelope, wrote ‘Dear Sweet Johnnie’ on the front, and handed it to Millie.

Stan paid for the flowers and chatted a few moments more with Millie.

As Stan was about to leave the store, he asked: “Do you mind if I hug you, Millie? You are such a great person.”

Millie obliged, and Stan left the store.

Later around midnight as Stan closed and locked his service station, he was robbed at gunpoint, prodded to the ‘Men’s Room’ and shot to death at close range. His body was not found until daybreak when the service station attendants arrived for work.

Stan’s roses arrived the next morning before news of the robbery and homicide reached Johnnie. Her heart filled with love overflowing as she read what Stan had written on the card:

Love and Time Eternal

It matters not the hours, the days, the years, the lifetime we spend together!

What matters is all the love we have gathered in our hearts

That will last eternally…

Forever, Stanley

– Flash fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood –

December 16, 2016

In Memory of my Uncle Stanley Balsinger who lives forever in my heart! 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS

 

Though it seems likely you were born in April, the date of December 25 has become the date much of the world has designated as the day we celebrate your birth. Here in the United States, most of our citizens enjoy your birthday as a paid holiday. On your birthday, many of us celebrate by gift sharing with our family and friends, participating in a special tradition of giving for which you are so very well known.

 

We do not know of every word you spoke and every deed that was rendered. Much of your living our historical experts cannot account, but from what has been recorded we know that you were unlike any other person on our earth at that time, that you spoke to the masses in parables for living an honorable and charitable life, that you spoke of God, your Father, and His Kingdom. We know that you were reviled and hated by the Roman rulers and were considered an enemy to their pagan icons and political agenda. At the end we know how you suffered from the stones and thorns of hate, how you carried the heavy cross to Golgotha, there to be fixed by nails to that cross and die a slow and painful death.

 

Some among us doubt your message of faith and the Kingdom of God, your Father. Some doubt that you died there on Calvary’s cross for the sins of humankind. Some even mock your words and arrogantly pronounce all your goodness as mere mythology. But they are few, dear Jesus, and there are a great majority of us who have read of your short time among us, believe in your message, who are not without sin but strive to grow our faith and believe in the miracle of creation – that incredible and meticulous nine months of a child’s birth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the great order of the universe.

 

Our world today has changed not so much from the world you entered, dear Jesus. We still have those political and iconic problems throughout all parts of our planet. We have our ‘machines’ now that make our lives so easily disposed to sloth and idleness. We have our poor, our wealthy, and our in-be-tweens. We have created a bureaucratic welfare system that keeps so many of our people dependent on a government’s treasury, that makes it more sensible to stay at home and receive other people’s money than to work for it themselves. Yet, we do have those who truly need the goodness and help that comes from the heart, those teachings you passed along to us.

 

We still have famine and wars, so many prophesied in the Bible. We seem to be coming to some end-point, Jesus. We have terrorists who wish to kill us because they believe it part of their religious mandates. It appears we do not learn from the lessons of history. The world seems to be imploding while the good minds among us seek a paradigm for peace and prosperity.

 

So, in celebrating your birth, dear Jesus, I wish this long birthday card was a testimonial to how far we have come in loving our neighbor and honoring all of your Father’s ‘Ten Commandments’. Our knowledge is exploding. There are lots of new machines and toys for living, maybe even some tiny robots that go roaming around in our bodies to extend our lives, but, for good will and love, I fear we have not come so far since that awful day you were nailed on the cross near Jerusalem.  

 

For me, Jesus, I’m trying to grow my faith, endeavoring to be better than I am, wanting that eternal life in that great Kingdom by your Father’s House.

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – Christmas, 2016

 

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Tarnished Vanity

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Tarnished Vanity

It was an itch on my right cheek.

I scratched the itch.

Another itch came to my other cheek.

I scratched that itch.

Other itches came to the face near the eyes.

I scratched those itches.

I was sitting in a hotel bar with friends

The friends noticed my discomfort.

“Are you okay?” a friend asked.

“Excuse me, I must go,” I said.

I left the table and went to the Men’s Room.

I looked in the mirror.

Red blotches covered my face.

The itches started on my chest.

I was mortified!

I went to my hotel room.

The itches continued.

I became frantic.

I went to the nearest hospital emergency room.

The intern told me I had Hives!

Who knew!

I never had hives in my life.

The intern called it ‘CIU’.

‘Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria’

Fancy Medical terminology.

‘C-lasting over 6 weeks’

‘I-no one knows the cause’.

‘U-medical word for Hives’.

The intern gave me a shot.

Gave me a prescription for medication.

My CIU was gone in 3 days.

Over the next six months,

I had new breakouts of CIU.

Treatment, the same:

Emergency Room.

Medication.

Gone in three days.

Okay, I know this likely has very little interest to most of the readers. However, at the time, I was into acting: doing TV commercials, some stage and film work, plus modeling. My humility notwithstanding, the vanity did come into play. Hives (CIU) had never been a remote part of my consciousness and it scared the proverbial daylights out of me.

As a teenager I had acne issues, at the time a most serious intrusion into my young life. It was a mild intrusion but I made it much too big in my high school years. There were several young ladies I wanted to pursue, a lovely majorette and a cheerleader, and it had reached my ears that they wanted to date me… I even got up enough courage to ask the majorette out for a movie date, got ‘cold feet’ by the time the date day came around and stood her up. Going to her school locker the next Monday, she passed me with her eyes fixed on the ceiling, letting me know she hated me.

Later, while in the Navy and home on leave, I had my date with the majorette. At least, she no longer hated me.

When my Navy years were behind me, my face all clear of pimples, I became a womanizer and lotus eater of sorts…living, as they say, in the ‘fast lane’.

Somewhere along the line I grew up and became more responsible. In my life. Looking back on those teen and pre-teen years, there were a lot of emotional obstacles. I was easy prey for zit time…it was just an added default position.

If young people are reading this and going through the zit-period, try to keep your sanity. The zits will go, and that’s a promise!

Billy Ray Chitwood – October 15, 2016

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